Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
PARIS--Fresh from the recent opening of his 35 year retrospective at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Montréal last month, Jean Paul Gaultier ended the fall couture season yesterday afternoon by reaffirming his commanding vision of the Parisian elegance with a sense of humor, espoused throughout his career.
With a slight nod to the intense creative period of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russe in Paris in the 1920s, the collection highlighted Mr. Gaultier’s classic silhouette and tailored based clothes--a style of Parisian chic that has always been central to his work. He has altered how we view traditional clothing. At any Gaultier couture show, there’s always the masterly tailored pinstripe pantsuit--now in a dark navy double breasted jacket, with a white tutu at the hips, or a cropped double breasted version with a cape--and the omnipresent trench. Here, the infinite permutations of the trench resulted in a cropped grey wool coat, a brown leather and silk style, and a pale yellow silk coat dress with flowing chiffon in the back.
The are black chicken feathers abound in the collection, a nod to the Gallic tradition. And there were colorful bird of paradise plumes on a strapless corset, with a hand painted bubble skirt covered in tulle. But throughout the show there was a sense of control, as these couture outfits were meant for customers rather than made specifically for a runway show. The black jersey strapless gown and the grey skirt suit with touches of fabric gathered at the side were simple and elegant. I also loved the black sheer chiffon scarf-coat, belted at the waist over a strapless black velvet gown.
As a humorous reference to himself, look number 38 was a feathered ski sweater and grey chiffon skirt that the show program noted as "vintage, Gaultier Paris," and number 60 was his draped silk jersey strapless dress with 3-D bra cones. And to affirm his connections to pop culture, the cult French singer Mylène Farmer closed the show in a black biker leather jacket worn with a short tulle skirt and a long train as a wedding dress.
To celebrate the release of the new KokoRico men’s fragrance, the designer showed 20 men’s looks. Some were a reprise of an influential men’s couture show he did in January 1996, like the black shirt pant suit with a white vest-corset and long train.
The long skirt-pant--shown for the first time in 1984 (basically a pant with a flap wrap over)--came in black wool and was worn with white shirt, black tie and an oversize M-1 bomber coat. There was also a fancier version: a full skirt with white and black ostrich feathers. An outstanding men’s look was the chocolate, double-breasted flare coat with a tulle skirt bubbling underneath. It was classic and non-traditional in one outfit. It remained me of the long black wool side button coat from that influential men’s couture show: chic then and now.
Now that the house is on the move again, with a partner in the Spanish company Puig, Mr. Gaultier can expand on his refined ready-to-wear collections.